Although there are numerous characters in A Brighter Sun, the novel is essentially focused on Tiger. Even Urmilla is not foregrounded. She is (like Joe, Rita, Sookdeo, and Boysie) a foil to Tiger, though she is also the means of depicting the role of Hindu women in Indian social life. Joe is a nonphilosophical, pragmatic person, friendly yet distant; Rita is self-assured, congenial, and unpretentious—a fine example of a true neighbor. Tall Boy and Otto (Chinese shopkeepers) are introduced, it seems, merely to represent one of the minuscule racial and ethnic groups in the Caribbean. Tall Boy is the astute entrepreneur, the family man; Otto is the older, opium-addicted stereotype. They offer a Chinese analogue to the Indian communities in Chaguanas and Barataria.
Tiger is not given a family name (a not uncommon practice in Indian villages), and thus he can be accepted as a representative individual, rather like one called “Yank” or “Aussie.” He represents that large section of the population of Trinidad, Fiji, and Guyana who are descendants of the indentured plantation workers who were imported at the end of slavery to work on the large estates and who were long denied education, opportunity, and political representation. Accordingly, we can understand Tiger’s intense interest in language and education, in owning land and a house, and in entering politics. He has set his sights high and looks to the future with “a brighter sun” than that of the past. Symbolically, Tiger’s personal war against the old order (and against being regarded as a child) coincides with World War II, which cemented the superpower status of the Soviet Union and United States while setting into motion a number of revolutions in colonized lands in Central and Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
In the botanical gardens, Tiger contemplates the...
(The entire section is 760 words.)